They've been thin as hens' teeth, but now some of the electronic mystery review sites seem to be picking up the book. This is the first (and one hopes not the last). What I like about this one is that the reviewer "gets" the characterization and that she still likes, or likes even better, my protagonist in this novel. I've been a little nervous about other comments that found Akitada to be unlikeable in this novel, when all I was trying to do was to show that even good people sometimes lash out in great pain.

Penguin Trade PBO 7/09

I had one request in my review of I.J. Parker's last novel ISLAND OF EXILES and that was that the next novel feature the strong but gentle Tora more prominently and earlier. My wish was granted in THE CONVICT'S SWORD. While I like Sugawara Akitada as the high born Samurai sleuth, I prefer his spirited retainer Tora. At least I did until I read this novel, now I like both characters equally.

Lord Akitada is having problems at work with his superior; he is also troubled by the promise he made to avenge the wrongful conviction of a man who saved his life, and things are not going well with his marriage. None of this is made easier when Tora is accused of killing a blind street singer and small pox stalks the city. Akitada has to face his own short comings with tragic results and the rift between him and his wife grows wider. This time the author truly delved into her protagonist's psyche and the results are profound.

After Tora is found leaning over the body of the brutally murdered street singer he is jailed, but after a hearing he is released into Akitada's custody. The two men investigate the crime separately and their paths take off in different directions. Tora infiltrates a street gang while Akitada discovers a beautiful, mysterious, woman in dire circumstances. The contrast between the men's personalities, background and approaches to solving crime contributes to a lively emotionally charged novel.

As usual the author's excellent research and writing recreates the world of feudal Japan: The hierarchy, social structure, and how people from all walks of life cope through a disaster as the death count from the deadly small pox paralyzes the country.

This is a gripping work which I could not put down. I am also happy to report that this novel is as good as the brilliantly written first novel, ROSHOMON GATE.

- Devorah Stone

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Comment by I. J. Parker on September 11, 2009 at 12:50am
Thank you, Dana.
Comment by Dana King on September 10, 2009 at 11:29am
Outstanding. Congratulations, IJ.
Comment by I. J. Parker on September 10, 2009 at 8:15am
Thanks, Pepper.
Comment by Pepper Smith on September 10, 2009 at 5:27am
Wonderful review. Congrats!
Comment by I. J. Parker on September 10, 2009 at 4:43am
Thank you all, very much. I'm trying, B.R.
Comment by Jon Loomis on September 10, 2009 at 1:52am
Very nice, IJ. Congrats!
Comment by B.R.Stateham on September 10, 2009 at 1:10am
Keep the faith, baby. Keep the faith. Good novels will be found and reviewed.

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